In the City of Portland, 1.2 gallons of water cost a penny, but this penny may run into hundreds of dollars added to your water bill. Leakages from faucets, showerheads, toilets, or outdoor pipes can waste up to 100,000 gallons of water a year resulting in an additional $400 on your utility bill. While you can save yourself from this loss by hiring a qualified plumber in the city, always ask the following questions to determine the professional is good to handle your job satisfactorily:
- Are You Licensed to Practice as a Plumber in the City of Portland?
- How Much Do You Charge Compared to Plumbers in the City of Portland?
- Do You Comply with the City of Portland Building Code for Plumbing?
- Will You Get the Plumbing Permits as Required by the City of Portland Code?
- What Kind of Plumbing Services Do You Offer?
- Do You Offer Emergency Plumbing Services in the City of Portland?
- Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Plumbers in the City of Portland?
Any plumber who intends to perform plumbing jobs across Portland must satisfy licensing requirements by obtaining both a contractor license and a plumbing license. Particularly, performing any plumbing job without a contractor license is unlawful and attracts both criminal and civil penalties, such as paying up to $5,000 in fines for each plumbing work done without a license.
The Oregon Construction Contractors Board (CCB) issues contractors licenses, while the Building Codes Division (BCD) of the Oregon Department of Consumer & Business Services (DCBS) regulates the issuance of plumbing licenses. Before obtaining the applicable license from the relevant agencies, interested persons must satisfy specific requirements. Requirements to obtain a contractor's license include being at least 18 years old, completing CCB-accredited training, and passing required tests. However, this training may be waived for individuals who have a minimum of eight years of work experience in construction. Note that such individuals must still pass any required tests. Interested persons who have satisfied the applicable requirements can submit an appropriately filled contractor license application form, pay the requisite fees, and submit any requested documents to the CCB. For more contractor license-related information or clarification, interested persons can contact the CCB at (503) 378-4621 or by email.
Similarly, requirements for obtaining a plumbing license include completing an apprenticeship program approved by the State Plumbing Board or acquiring classroom training and having work experience. The required duration of training or hours of experience typically depends on the license type. For example, a journeyman plumbing license applicant must complete a four-year apprenticeship program or acquire 576 hours of classroom training in a plumbing-related field. In addition to this, they must also obtain 3,580 hours of commercial plumbing work experience and 3,580 hours of residential plumbing work experience. Qualified applicants can proceed to submit a completed plumbing license application form, pay any applicable fees, and provide relevant documents to the DCBS. Applicants who have plumbing license-related inquiries can direct these inquiries to the DCBS at (503) 373-1268.
Plumbers who intend to work in Portland can request more clarification on licensing requirements by contacting the city's Bureau of Development Services (BDS) at (503) 823-7300 or by email. Likewise, residents of the city can confirm if their intended plumber has a contractor license online via the CCB contractor search portal and further verify this plumber's plumbing license via the BCD license holder search portal.
Plumbers in Portland perform several services and usually charge different hourly rates for these services. Asides from the type of plumbing service, other factors that influence a plumber's hourly rate include the cost of necessary materials and labor. However, you can find out the average hourly rate for your plumbing project by comparing bids from at least three different plumbers near you.
A plumber in the City of Portland earns an annual average wage of $70,520. Below is a breakdown of the average hourly wages for plumbers in Portland compared with plumbers in other parts of Oregon and other major cities in the country:Portland Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$37.75Oregon Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$36.44San Jose Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$40.79Denver Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$29.30Seattle Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$39.45Boston Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$40.46Las Vegas Plumbers Hourly Average Wage$29.48
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Besides confirming if your intended plumber is licensed, you should also confirm if this plumber is well-versed in the provisions of the applicable Plumbing Code. In the City of Portland, this code is the 2021 Oregon Plumbing Specialty Code, and it regulates every plumbing-related activity across the city, including plumbing system installations, replacements, repairs, and relocations. The Code also governs the use of plumbing materials for these plumbing systems and stipulates minimum safety standards that every plumbing job must satisfy. Plumbing systems and materials covered by the Code include sanitary drainage and sewage systems, water supply and distribution systems, medical gas and medical vacuum systems, and plumbing fixtures and fixture fittings. Compliance with the Code during your plumbing project is mandatory, and failing to do so may result in your project being stopped by the City's Bureau of Development Services (BDS), alongside other civil penalties.
You can contact the BDS at (503) 823-7300 or by email for more inquiries on the city's Plumbing Code, penalties for non-compliance, and related matters.
Before any plumbing project can commence within Portland, the relevant homeowner or their contractor must obtain a plumbing permit from the city's Bureau of Development Services (BDS). Only specific plumbing works can be performed without a permit. They include replacing, fixing, or maintaining a plumbing part already in place or replacing plumbing parts that do not need water. If you need clarification on whether your plumbing project falls under the category of works that do not require a permit, you can contact the BDS by email or at (503) 823-7363, Mondays to Fridays, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Plumbing permit applications are generally submitted online through the city's Development Hub PDX portal. Before utilizing this portal, applicants must log in to their already registered account or register a new user account. Upon accessing the portal, applicants can submit a plumbing permit application and pay the relevant fees. After receiving a permit application, the BDS will contact the applicant and give directions on how to satisfy other conditions necessary for processing the application.
However, note that if your plumbing project requires a plumbing plan, you cannot submit your plumbing application online. Instead, you must obtain a plumbing permit application form, submit the completed form via email to the BDS, pay the applicable fees, and submit your plumbing plans separately. These plumbing plans can be submitted online or in person. For in-person submissions, you must schedule a drop-off appointment with the BDS and drop off your plumbing plans at the Bureau's Office located at:
- Development Services Center
- 1900 Southwest Fourth Avenue
- First Floor Lobby
- Portland, OR 97201
For more inquiries on plumbing permit processes, you can contact the BDS at (503) 823-7363 or by email, Mondays to Fridays, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Finally, before completing your plumbing project, you must schedule inspections with the BDS. During an inspection, your plumbing project will be examined for any Code violations or plumbing hazards. If any Code violation or hazard is noticed, you will be required to make corrections before your project can be cleared as properly done. You can request an inspection online through the Development Hub PDX portal or by calling (503) 823-7000.
Portland plumbers usually offer specific services, which depend on their license classification and clients' plumbing needs. For example, while residential water-heater installers can only replace existing water heaters in residential apartments, journeymen plumbers can perform various plumbing installations, remodeling, and alterations in both residential and commercial buildings. Therefore, before deciding on a plumber for your plumbing project, you should first confirm the specialization of your intended plumber and only hire plumbers that can address your specific plumbing needs. You can assess a plumber's specialty by checking the scope of their license and requesting referrals from recent customers. While a plumber's service charge is largely determined by the services you need, below are cost estimates for some common plumbing services across Portland:Bathtub installation$1,400 - $2,200Fuel tank installation/removal$1,500 - $2,800Plumbing remodeling$4,000 - $5,500Septic tank cleaning$250 - $350Sewer line cleaning$150 - $500Toilet installation/replacement$140 - $160Water softener installation$1,000 - $1,500Well pump installation$700 - $900
Generally, it is recommended that you urgently address any plumbing issue you notice in your home. Per the United States Environmental Protection Agency, it is estimated that household leaks waste more than 2,700 gallons of water monthly, and dripping faucets waste more than 3,000 gallons of water yearly. This wastage can easily lead to an avoidable rise in water bills and possibly damage your home and property if left unattended.
In order to avoid such situations, you can utilize third-party websites like Yelp, Google Review, and Better Business Bureau to find competent plumbers near you and request their plumbing repair services. You can assess the competence of any plumber you find from these websites by browsing through available reviews from previous customers. Besides utilizing third-party websites, you can also ask colleagues, friends, and family for referrals to good plumbers near you. Nonetheless, before hiring any plumber that checks your hiring checklist, remember to verify this plumber's license. You can verify a plumber's contractor license by utilizing the CCB contractor search portal and further verify this plumber's plumbing license via the BCD license holder search portal.
In Portland, plumbers who desire to offer plumbing services to city residents must maintain general liability and workers' compensation insurance, failure of which may lead to the suspension of their license. It is essential to confirm that your plumber is insured so as to avoid financial responsibility for any property damage or injuries that may be sustained during your plumbing work. With over 6,000 reported non-fatal injuries during plumbing-related works across the country in 2020, this financial protection is particularly crucial. You can verify Portland plumbers' insurance status by asking them to show you proof of this insurance and contacting the relevant insurance company for official confirmation.
Homeowners in Portland who wish to begin any home improvement project are advised to be cautious and safeguard themselves against scammers who go about defrauding unsuspecting residents of their money. When planning to pull such fraudulent schemes, most scammers randomly contact residents and offer unsolicited home improvement bids. They may also claim to be licensed while actually using fake license numbers, insist on payment before work, and perform a shoddy or subpar job. In order to ensure the protection of Portland homeowners from home improvement scams, the CCB conducts routine sweeps and investigations across the city to root out unlicensed contractors. In one of such sweeps in 2018, the CCB rooted out over 40 contractors that had violated various contractor regulations across several cities in the state, including Portland.
Unfortunately, some scammers escape these sweeps and successfully defraud homeowners, hence the need to be cautious and safeguard yourself. Below are some steps you can take to protect yourself from these scammers:
- Always verify a plumber's license before engaging the plumber. A plumber's contractor license can be verified through the CCB contractor search portal, and this plumber's plumbing license can also be verified through the BCD license holder search portal
- Consider getting estimates from other plumbers. Do not just hire the first plumber you contact. Check estimates from other plumbers so you are aware of the going rate for your plumbing project
- Ensure that any agreement you reach with a plumber is in writing, and the written document is signed by both you and the plumber. If the plumber presents a custom agreement, ensure you understand all the terms in the agreement before signing it
- Avoid cash payments. Instead, make payments by check, money order, or any other payment method that provides proof of payment
- Maintain a record of documents relevant to your project. Examples of relevant documents include payment receipts, the signed agreement, and written estimates
- Do not make complete payment until your project is completed. Also, if you need to pay a deposit, only pay a small part of the agreed payment. A reasonable deposit ranges between 10% - 30% of the complete payment
In the event that you get scammed of your money by a plumbing contractor, you can report this scam to the CCB. The CCB utilizes different techniques to help scammed residents get compensation, including mediation and other dispute resolution methods. You can explore the CCB online resources for filing complaints and follow the relevant processes for filing a contractor complaint. For more inquiries, you can contact the CCB at (503) 934-2247.
Additionally, you can sue the relevant plumber by filing a small claims case at the Multnomah County Circuit Court and requesting reimbursement for the inconveniences caused by the plumber's dishonest actions. Note that attorney representation is not allowed in small claims cases, and the maximum amount you can request as reimbursement is $10,000. However, it is advisable to first consult a competent attorney for assistance with presenting your case or better alternatives for getting reimbursement before you file a small claims case.